Finding my community

I’m Natalie and I’m an author and advocate for LGBTQ families. I’m an Idaho native but struggled with living in a closeted gay family in such a conservative state. So I left home at eighteen and moved to New York for college.

After graduating, I spent the next few years traveling and working internationally before settling in L.A. for a couple years. After the economy crash and three years of volunteering with Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, I was at a crossroads and moved back to Idaho.

I’m the product of a heterosexual marriage which ended when I was 12. My dad came out to my immediate family which forced us all into the closet. He is the former Chief Judge of the Idaho State Court of Appeals and would have lost his job if he’d come out publicly.

Shortly after my parents’ divorce, my dad met Jerry, his now husband. A few months later they had a commitment ceremony and we officially became a family when we bought our first home together. I define my family structure as 2 dads/1 mom. I also have an older sister.

My dad officially retired in 2014 and my dads legally married the next year. For the first time in almost twenty years, we didn’t have to hide. My dads moved to Palm Springs and started living openly as a couple. I found my voice as an advocate, and with my family’s permission, started writing my memoir, ‘Dad #1, Dad#2: A Queerspawn View from the Closet.

It was only a year ago that I found COLAGE. For me, it was liberating to meet others who grew up in families like my own. I joined the Facebook group and shared my story. A few months later I started writing as an adult COLAGEr for the Kidsafe blog. I continue to connect with others online, including many who are also using writing as a form of activism.

This summer I will be volunteering with COLAGE at Family Week. It’s an opportunity that I’m ecstatic about but also one that is a little bittersweet for me personally. Events like these are reminders of the things I was never allowed to participate in as a child. At the same time, I’m so grateful to see the shift that has occurred in our country and I’m passionate about working as a positive force for change.

I’m excited to see COLAGE expand its blog to have a space for adults. I believe many adult COLAGErs have unique perspectives based on growing up in a time where our families were less accepted. I look forward to writing in this space, but I also want to learn others’ stories. I look forward to reading what others post here.